Herbert Baker architecture
Did you know?
Sir Herbert Baker is buried in Westminster Abbey.
Herbert Baker was a British architect who became the leading influence on architecture in South Africa at the turn of the 19th century.
Born in Cobham Kent in 1946, Baker was recognised as the top of his class after passing his examination for associateship of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1891.
He came to South Africa in 1892 to visit his brother, and during this visit was commissioned to redesign Groote Schuur, Cecil John Rhodes' house on the slopes of Table Mountain - a big coup for an untried architect. Obviously pleased with the result, Rhodes sponsored Baker's further education in Italy, Greece and Egypt. When he returned to South Africa, Baker became the most sought-after architect of his time.
He was invited to build residences for the "Randlords", wealthy mining magnates in the then-Transvaal. The work of his practice can be seen throughout the country in schools, churches and private homes. Johannesburg's Parktown and Westcliff suburbs are filled with Herbert Baker buildings, including his own home, Rockhouse.
Most famous among his works in this country are the Union Buildings, the seat of government in South Africa. The cornerstone for this impressive edifice was laid in 1910. Having completed the Union Buildings in 1913, Herbert Baker departed South Africa for India and then returned to England.
Other famous Herbert Baker buildings include Groot Constantia, the Rhodes Memorial and St George's Cathedral in Cape Town; Northwards, Roedean School and St John's College in Johannesburg; and Rhodes University in Grahamstown.
Much of Herbert Baker's architecture is still in official use and open to the public. Private homes are visible on walking tours of old Johannesburg, or on certain open days throughout the year - and the gardens of the Union Buildings can be visited as part of most tours of Pretoria.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Parktown and Westcliff Heritage Trust
Tel: +27 11 482 3349